The Cloud – Catching You Up

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Cloud Computing is about as hyped up a market as SMB Research can ever recall seeing.  This is good for the software and technology vendors (and us Analysts); not so good for the end-user.  This article will try to make some sense out of the flurry of recent Cloud-related activity, focusing principally on the major  Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IAAS) players, but with brief discussion also of the PAAS and SAAS spaces.    There continues to be lot of (and perhaps even an increase in)    jockeying for position.  As always, I would enjoy hearing from you to hear your sense of the cloud market, the vendor positioning, or your experience with the cloud technologies.

Recent and Key Vendor Announcements

Amazon Web Services

AT&T

Eucalyptus Systems

GoGrid

HP

IBM

Microsoft

Oracle

Rackspace

Red Hat

Other IAAS vendors (partial list) to pay attention to:

Bluelock (Bluelock Virtual Data Center); CA technologies; Cloudscaling (Open Cloud OS); CSC (CloudCompute); Enomaly (Elastic Computing Platform); Joyent (SmartDataCenter); Layered Tech; Logicworks; NaviSite (NaviCloud Platform); OpenStack; OpSource; Savvis (Symphony Virtual Private Data Center); Terremark (Enterprise Cloud)

What Does it All Mean?

Infrastructure as a Service (IAAS)

Much of the activity in the IAAS area involves companies trying to to avoid the predicted commoditization in this space. So while companies like Microsoft see an opportunity to take on and compete with the market leader, Amazon Web Services, the IAAS players already in the market are making moves to add capabilities that enable them to offer more than capacity and infrastructure.

AT&T’s announcement of their  Cloud Architect is an example of this.  Cloud Architect is AT&T’s new “pure public cloud service” intended as a “down market” offering for developers, ISVs and tech-savvy SMBs.  Cloud Architect’s configurability and time-to-setup are its key differentiators.

The Amazon Web Services – Eucalyptus hookup is all about enabling customers to more easily move workloads between internal data centers and AWS.  An agreement that enables customers to more efficiently migrate workloads between their existing data centers and AWS while using the same management tools and skills across both environments. As part of this agreement, AWS will support Eucalyptus as they continue to extend compatibility with AWS APIs and customer use cases. Customers can run applications in their existing data centers that are compatible with popular Amazon Web Services such as Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3).

HP, IBM, Rackspace, and Red Hat, adherents of the OpenStack movement (announced in October 2011), which is intended to address the vendor lock-in concerns.  HP, Rackspace, and Red Hat have announced offerings.  IBM’s strategy, as articulated by IBM’s Lauren States on June 14th, is to “capture the higher-value services that sit on top of the stack…We are working on integrating the OpenStack into our stack.”

It is perhaps not surprising, therefore, that Amazon Web Service has announced changes and reductions to its support pricing, while announcing some new features.  We can expect to continue to see these competitive volleys between the large enterprise vendors (HP, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP) who have turf to defend from the pure cloud players.

 

Platform as a Service (PAAS)

There is considerable speculation, and perhaps even some evidence beyond speculation, that PAAS is where the action will be.  As cloud adoption continues to gain momentum, vendors and service providers in the PAAS sector are investing in the development of ever more sophisticated software, and faster deployment of this software to the cloud.  Expect to see increasing blurring of the boundary between IAAS and PAAS as part of the competitive plays, with the issue of  vendor lock-in getting a  lot of attention.

 

Software as a Service (SAAS)

The SAAS sector has arguably had a run as the sexiest area of the three.  Given the all too familiar concerns around software implementation costs, continual upgrades, and maintenance and support fees, SAAS quickly generated a lot of interest, and even some hope as a panacea.  The discussion now seems to be whether and how soon PAAS eclipses SAAS as PAAS technologies increase in capability and usability, and as the lingering pro’s and con’s of SAAS are highlighted.

 

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